The next time you're about to use a plastic bag to carry your latest haul at the supermarket, remember this eye-opening point from Planet Green: shoppers use almost one trillion plastic shopping bags each year and most end up either clogging up landfills or littering our environment. You can help improve this situation by using -- and reusing -- bags made from recycled materials. By the way, recycled materials aren't just for shopping bags anymore; they also appear in fashionable accessories like clutch purses and messenger bags.
Shopping totes made from recycled plastic might be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone mention recycled bags, however, the types of materials used to make recycled bags are expanding rapidly. Pick up one of Ecoist's sweet sacks, made from chocolate bar wrappers. The wrappers, considered unusable by their manufacturers, are woven together to create clutch purses that are trendy, handy accessories for a night out. Leather bags may not be a new idea, but recycled leather bags are. Companies, such as Salvation Saks, rescue non-biodegradable fabrics and use them to create a potpourri of bags. You can also purchase bags made from old rubber, recycled car seat belts and vinyl billboards.
There are some key factors you'll want to keep in mind when purchasing a recycled bag. Recycled material comes from pre- and post-consumer goods. Pre-consumer goods include waste made during the manufacturing process, such as paper clippings accumulated during the envelope-making process. Post-consumer goods include used items sent to a recycling facility, such as plastic bottles, magazines and containers made of glass or aluminium.
Make Your Own
You can always buy a bag made from recycled materials, but crafty folks can also make their own. Look around your house or the local thrift store for items that you can repurpose. You can convert old T-shirts, sheets and pillowcases into stylish grocery bags, while delicate window coverings made of breathable fabrics can become reusable produce bags. Bird lovers with an excess number of bird feed sacks lying around can turn the sacks into grocery bags. Skilled knitters can knit their own bags out of worsted-weight yarn using mesh or knit stitches. Use materials that can withstand the rigours of everyday use and are machine washable. Regularly wash bags used to carry grocery items, such as produce and meat, to kill any bacteria that would love to live in a nice, dark locale such as your newly made bag.
Companies such as Ecoist make it easy for environmentally-conscious consumers to be fashion-forward consumers. The company sells totes, coin purses, clutches and cross-body bags made from post-consumer recycled materials, such as crisp bags and chocolate bar wrappers. You can even select an Ecoist tote or handbag made from discarded ring pulls. For daily use, don one of the handbags made from discarded newspapers or pick up a coin purse made from Coca-Cola labels.